GreenBlue staff kicked off our monthly documentary series last week with a viewing of WASTE LAND. Geneva Hodges and other staff share their responses to the film.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This quote was taken literally by the renowned Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz, on his year-long journey in Rio de Janeiro and the world’s largest landfill. This film was inspirational, beautifully filmed, and emotionally affective, all characteristics which make a good film great, but most importantly for me, it was incredibly relevant to the type of change that we hope to enthuse in the world. Muniz’s artistic creations were exceptionally beautiful, and his philanthropic motives for crafting his art were just as stunning, but I was most moved by the obvious dedication and pride of the self-chosen pickers of recyclable materials, who were documented in this film. They saw the value and importance in collecting recyclable materials for reuse, and we hope that one day this mentality will become the norm throughout the world.
Eric DesRoberts: This film was gripping from start to finish. Artist Vic Muniz brings stories and images from largest landfill in the world (Jardim Gramacho) into our homes. Focusing on the lives of the recyclable pickers that work at the landfill, Muniz captured the tragic awe of garbage by making enormous masterpieces of some of the workers using only materials from Jardim Gramacho. Of the many things this film offered, I found the transformation of workers’ emotions particularly interesting. From local pride, to shame and aversion, and eventually leading to hope and aspiration, it is amazing how something considered waste can be so rich in terms of technical nutrients and social significance.
Liz Shoch: One of the catadores (waste pickers) featured in the movie Waste Land had a motto: 99 is not 100. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It’s irresistible in its simplicity! His point was that even though he worked all day on a literal mountain of garbage, each piece of recyclable material he pulled out was one more piece that didn’t stay buried in that mountain. It’s a good mantra for those of us wishing we could wave a magic wand and make things just a bit easier in all aspects of life. Its simplicity applies just as equally when the garden needs weeding as when we look around and the real world doesn’t live up to our vision of a “sustainable” world. Big successes are few and far between, but “99 is not 100” reminds me that all the little things I do to make better packaging recovery a reality are having some small impact. Combined with all the small impacts others are making, together, we may be making a visible dent in that mountain of garbage.
Erin Malec: We talk a lot about the end of life of materials in our office, but to see such overwhelming images of what the end of life actually looks like in Jardim Gramacho was disheartening. To meet the workers, who literally clean up the mess of our society, and to see how they and Muniz extract value and beauty from such a setting was inspiring.